Jack McGuinn, Senior Editor
When, in 1266, Marco Polo journeyed to China in search of lucrative trade routes and untold riches, he was firm in his belief that the Asian continent was an untapped source awaiting economic development. The intrepid Venetian may have been eight centuries ahead of his time, but his vision’s validation was amply demonstrated at the 10th China International Machine Tool Show (CIMT), held April 9–15 in Beijing.
Staged bi-annually at the China International Exhibition Center, CIMT is China’s largest and most sophisticated machine tool exhibition, and it now ranks among the top four machine tool shows in the world. With more than 1,200 exhibitors and 26 countries represented, CIMT has become a destination show for exhibitors and attendees alike since its inception in 1987.
Marketing 101. For Alan R. Finegan, director of marketing for Gleason Corp., exhibiting at CIMT was just good business.
“It’s no secret that China is the largest growth market in the world, and has become by far the largest consumer of machine tools and related equipment in the world,” he says. “I cannot think of a machine tool technology show that makes more sense to include in our promotional plans than CIMT.”
The just-opened, 22,600-sq. ft. Gleason Gear Technology (Suzhou) Co. Ltd., which will produce machine tools and possibly other products exclusively for the Chinese market.
To that end, Gleason showcased several products, including the Genesis 130H hobbing machine, a recent addition to its line of cylindrical gear manufacturing equipment; the 275HC CNC bevel gear cutting machine; and a gear metrology technology demonstration with its Sigma 7 Gear Inspection and Analysis System.
For Gleason, both the China market and CIMT have become a far-flung but welcoming home away from home, the company having made its Marco Polo-like trek to China back in 1987. Gleason Corp. now enjoys—and aggressively cultivates—high-profile status among Chinese tool buyers.
“Gleason had a presence in China long before the trends of the last few years,” says Finegan. “Gleason Sales-China, our sales-and-service organization in Beijing, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and over the years it has grown dramatically in both size and capabilities.” Finegan also points to a 2005 joint venture with Chinese Harbin No. 1 Tool Corp.—Gleason Yi Gong (Harbin) Cutting Tools Co. Ltd.—to produce precision gear cutting tools in Harbin in Heilongjiang Province. The facility serves as another example of the company’s proactive Chinese market development. And just before the start of CIMT last month, the company announced its grand opening of the Gleason Gear Technology (Suzhou) Co. Ltd., which will produce machine tools and, perhaps later, other products made exclusively for the Chinese market.
Making its Asian debut at CIMT is Gleason’s 130H hobber. Manufacture of the 130H will be the primary focus at its new Gleason (Suzhou) Co. Ltd.
Ohio-based Process Equipment Co. (PECo) is another American company that gets it. CIMT is not only a showcase for its new products, but can also be a springboard to other opportunities for global presence.
“We feel that the market awareness generated at this show will help us further penetrate the global market,” says Brian Slone, PECo business unit manager/metrology systems division. “We have several meetings scheduled with European companies to discuss opportunities as well.”
At the show, PECo unveiled its ND430 CNC gear measurement system with automatic probe changer. The unit, which helps meet the increasing demand by Chinese manufacturers for better-precision components, also featured a Mandarin Chinese language module that allows for data entry and inspection analysis displays in the native language. And as that demand continues to grow, Slone sees PECo as a ready-willing-and-able resource.
“From conversations with the Chinese Gear Manufacturers Association (CGMA), it appears that the Chinese market will have a need for ‘hundreds’ of gear measurement machines over the next five years. We anticipate having a large percentage of those machines,” he says. Slone adds that, in an accelerated variation of China’s traditional Five Year Plan benchmark, PECo will be developing strategies at the show with its international sales partners (U.S., German and Turkish companies) for the next two years.
PECo’s ND430 Next-Dimension® Gear Measurement System.
In support of those plans, PECo is also “walking the walk” relative to establishing itself as a player in the China gear industry market.
“We have hired a full-time sales and service team for the Chinese market, and have translated all of our documentation necessary to support the sales and service function into the Chinese language,” he says. “We are finding that working with U.S. transplants in China is going to be a strong point for us with the language capabilities that we have developed.” He adds that the company is considering opening a facility there to manufacture and assemble components for the Chinese market. As with Gleason Corp., that investment will probably be in the form of a joint venture with companies that will work with PECo to everyone’s mutual benefit.
In the beginning. Gleason and PECo were just two American companies exhibiting at CIMT under the aegis of the Association for Manufacturing and Technology (AMT). If Marco Polo receives credit as China’s first Western agent of economic development, the AMT is certainly its Lewis & Clark. With its first trade mission to China in 1975, the AMT has over the years succeeded in helping to expand American companies’ presence. That success continues today as the AMT/USA Pavilion at CIMT 2007 was completely sold out, represented by more than 60 U.S. companies.
“The China market is growing rapidly and is very attractive to U.S. builders,” says AMT president John B. Byrd III. “The USA Pavilion is just one of several AMT initiatives to help our members serve the China market.” The AMT also has a USA Technology and Service Center in the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in Shanghai, along with three representative offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
And the American companies that today are assiduously putting down roots in China’s and other Asian markets’ rich economic soil are poised to be the sure winners as the manufacturing miracle continues to take shape and pay dividends. And companies like Gleason and PECo are more than willing partners in helping to make that happen.
“As the quality of gears made by Chinese manufacturers improves through better metrology, I believe you will see more ‘high-volume loose gearing’ product shipping to all parts of the world,” says PECo’s Slone. “Communication between technical personnel in the various trading countries will be the key in maintaining a quality product that meets each individual market’s demand.”
For Gleason’s Finegan, China is doing all the right things in developing the groundwork for a vibrant industrial base.
“China is developing and acquiring the necessary technologies to achieve its goals, and this extends from motor vehicles to appliances, industrial machinery, and to many other products, including gears.
“It is only natural that in developing capabilities to satisfy their domestic demands for gears, China has the potential to become a significant player in the global market as well.”
(Editor’s note: For a complete listing of CIMT exhibitors, please go to http:// www.cimtshow.com. For a complete listing of AMT/USA Pavilion exhibitors, please go to www.mfgtech.org)
For more information:
The Association for American Technology (AMT)
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McLean, VA 22102-4206
Phone: (703) 893-2900; (800) 524-0475
Fax: (703) 893-1151